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Virus software that blackmails users by locking them out of their computer or encrypting their computer's files in some manner. Also known as a "cryptovirus" or "cryptotrojan," a typical ransomware approach that takes only a few seconds to accomplish is to encrypt the indexes in the file system. This disables access to all the data and programs in the computer because the file system is the doorway to everything in storage (see file system). The ransomware then demands payment in Bitcoin to restore the data.

A favorite ploy is an FBI message claiming the user has child pornography on the computer, and a fine must be paid or else risk arrest. After paying the blackmail on any of these ransomware attacks, the user's machine may or may not be restored.

CryptoLocker - An Insipiration
In 2013, the creators of CryptoLocker collected millions in ransom by infecting Windows PCs until its distribution was halted a year later by the FBI and Interpol. CryptoLocker was the inspiration for other ransomware variants (gotta love that entrepreneurial spirit!). See Petya and WannaCry.

Mobile Phones Too
In 2014, using the same FBI scare tactic, thousands of Android users found their phones locked with demands for payment. See scareware and wares.

Even Cities
In 2019, two Florida cities paid their attackers more than $1 million to remove ransomware. Cybercrooks are increasingly asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars when they have breached a large organization or government entity. If there is any bright side to this, more organizations both public and private, are developing or improving their backup and recovery programs. See disaster recovery and cybercrime.

Ransomware Protection
As a result of this delightful phenomenon, numerous firms such as Trend Micro, Symantic, Malwarebytes and Avast Software have added ransomware protection in their lines of security products.

FBI MoneyPak Ransomware
Imagine finding your computer frozen with an FBI alert saying you violated any one or more of video, music or software copyrights or you distributed child pornography. It demands that you put USD $200 cash into a MoneyPak card and enter the card number within 72 hours to unlock your computer and prevent the initiation of a criminal case.
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References in periodicals archive ?
If the user follows through, the ransomware retrieves two downloads: the Dharma ransomware payload and an old version of anti-virus software from cyber security company ESET.
McAfee researchers also observed actors behind ransomware attacks using anonymous email services to manage their campaigns versus the traditional approach of setting up command-and-control (C2) servers.
1.4.1 Global Ransomware Protection Market Size Growth Rate by Type (2013-2025)
The GandCrab case is a good illustration of how effective ransomware can be, with its creators stopping their malicious activity after claiming they made a tremendous amount of money by extorting funds from their victims.
Duie Pyle's case, systems engineers found that the Trojan virus was "dropped in" to its computer system on April 19, nearly two months before it triggered the ransomware attack that locked out users.
"[W]ithin the last year, BBR services has seen a substantial increase in incidents involving both ransomware and banking Trojans."
Upon a ransomware attack, the necessity and required scope of legal notifications require a careful organizational and forensic examination of whether the attacker was able to "access" or "acquire" the data.
Training users how to detect and react to these threats is a critical ransomware deterrent.
"While in years past we've seen a growing frequency of ransomware claims, the costs to recover and the demands for payment were not nearly as concerning as what we've seen so far this year," the report says.
Backup vendors are responding to ransomware in one of two ways to this increasingly sophisticated malware.
According to a June threat report from McAfee Labs, the growth of new ransomware variants fell 32% in the first quarter of 2018.
This is one of the key findings in Kaspersky Lab's annual ransomware and malicious crypto miners report, 2016-2018.